Ten Things You Never Knew About Driftwood

Here at Saltwood as we use driftwood in a lot of our home decor products and often make reference to it we thought it might be helpful if we included a few bits of information on one of our favourite natural materials.

1 — Dictionary definition: driftwood- pieces of wood which are floating on a body of water or have been washed ashore

2. — Alternate Words: Tidewrack can be another term to describe driftwood although strictly speaking it covers all marine debris washed up on a beach

3. — Public Nuisance: Although much prized as a beach combing find in the UK the sheer size and scale of driftwood washed up elsewhere in the world can cause it to be a nuisance or even public safety issue due to the amount of driftwood deposited on the beach

4. — Vikings: When the Vikings sailed to new lands they would would cast wood into the sea from their longships before making landfall using the location of the wood as an indicator as to where to build their mead halls. In an early example of recycling the wood they used would found the high-seat pillars of the new hall.

5. — Green Oscars: The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy (sometimes called the “Green Oscars”) are sculpted out of driftwood

6. — Beach Formation: It also helps stabilise beaches, collecting and holding sand, and lessens erosion of unconsolidated shoreline banks by taking the brunt of waves bashing and nibbling

7. — Potential Carcinogen: Burning driftwood can produce polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs), also known as the misnomer “dioxins”, which are carcinogenic. For this reason burning driftwood is not recommended. The formation of PCDDs is well documented when organic compounds are combusted in the presence of chlorine, which is present in driftwood as a result of soaking in seawater.

8. — Public Boon : In contrast to parts of the world where excessive driftwood is a public nuisance, in the artic where there is no wood, the arrival of the occasional driftwood log can be a boon, as it has always been to indigenous people in the Arctic, where there is otherwise no wood, carried there from Russian rivers. Native Hawaiians prized the occasional big Northwest conifer log that drifted thousands of miles to their shore.

9. — Driftwood as Art: Several artists have become well done for creating sculptures using driftwood as a medium including Heather Jansch, Meleanie Klaas and Deborah Butterfield.

10. — Norse Mytholody (aka the Vikings again): According to Norse mythology, the first humans, Ask and Embla, were formed out of two pieces of driftwood, an ash and an elm, by the god Odin and his brothers, Vili and Vé

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Originally published at www.thesaltwoodcompany.com.